Live From CES: Unshackled From a Tuner, Wireless Panasonic Plasma TV Is Just 1" Thick

By Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor) | January 9, 2009 4:49 am

CES sponsor logoToday Panasonic showed off a new television that is really really skinny (“flat-out skinny” might be more appropriate): the 54-inch TC-P54Z1 is just 1 inch thick, which beats out even the thinnest LCD screens on the market.

The key to making this all work is that Panasonic pulled the tuner out of the TV entirely and moved it into a separate box, which transmits the full, uncompressed 1080p HD signal to the screen using a proprietary format called (cleverly) WirelessHD. This frees up a lot of room on the display, which Panasonic’s taken full advantage of. Funny to think that in an era when Internet is converging like mad with TVs, here’s one TV that’s diverging from itself.

Beyond the wow factor of having a really skinny screen and the ability to hang the thing on your wall relatively easily (it’s 67 pounds, which is pretty good for that size), this new screen is a welcome development for those who have long been waiting for wireless HD to appear. In fact, LG also displayed a wireless HD TV here at CES, and they’ve also joined up with Amimon, Sony, and other companies to create a new format called Wireless Home Digital Interface, or WHDI. But ultra wideband, which once seemed to be the leading candidate for wireless HD, still hasn’t come to fruition.

Panasonic also says that they’ve improved the cells that hold the phosphors in this TV, allowing the screen to be 1/3 brighter while using 1/3 less energy. The TC-P54Z1 is due out this summer, with more models in the super-thin Z1 line to follow.

Update, Friday, January 9: Here’s some video I shot of the TV spinning around so you can really grok the thin-ness. If you buy the Z1, you might as well show it off by putting it on a rotating spit like this:

  • LCD TV Buff

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